now is part of that same act, completing itself, fulfilling a
single thought, the same gesture or an act of the will.
The men rode, single file, behind him. Except for the soft
soughing of hoofs in the dust, or the infrequent, padded
chink of a horseshoe on a stone, there had been no sound for
a long way. The men had not spoken a word.
Or is it a different thing, he thought, part of the same
motion fulfilling a single act of will? But not his own will, it
occurred to him. Not entirely his own. In this, now, there
is no will, not mine nor anybody's, for there is no will in the
act in memory, for it is complete and is in one time out of
time, he thought; for as he moved down the road, thinking
of that other night, he felt removed, even now, from the
present experience, as though it were in memory.
He had felt that way when he reached into the hat and
picked up one of the acorns and drew it out and opened his
hand and saw that it was the yellow one. Mr. Burden had
said, " Well, if we're gonna do it, we might get it over with,"
and had gone outside the schoolhouse and fumbled about by
the light of matches under the oak tree in the yard. He had
come back into the silent group, and had asserted, extending
Ms hand: " There's a yellow one here. Might as well let it
be the one."
"Let everybody look at them good," Mr. Sills had said.
** We don't want any argument later,"
" Not much," Doctor MacDonald had agreed, smiling,
Mr. Munn had found the yellow acorn in his hand.
u Well," he remarked, looking at it, " that's it." He had lifted
his glance from the object to find the eyes of all the men
fixed upon him, detaching him from them.
Doctor MacDonald had come to stand in front of Mr.
Munn, " I'll go with you all," he had offered.
'* It won't be necessary," Mr. Munn had said.
w Not necessary," Doctor MacDonald had answered, " but I
don't want to pass any responsibility."
"No," Mr. Mnnn had said. He had twisted the yellow
acorn slowly in his fingers.